I have twins – a boy and a girl – and they are five months old at the time of this writing. I will admit to the entire world that these have been the hardest five months of my life. From the NICU to three hospital transfers to the daily grind of being a father, my wife and I have been through hell and back.
A month of dropping off milk at 5 a.m., two months of the NICU, and three months of zero sleep and all day screaming. This has been life since the birth of our beautiful kids, Edie and Nolan, in June.
It has not been easy – and I never expect it to get better. Or, perhaps that’s just my cynic talking.
When you’re a work from home father, your situation is different from other dads. They get to miss around eight to 10 hours of their babies as they sit in the office surrounded by peace and quiet – and adult conversation. You do not have this luxury. You do not receive any break because your office is just a few feet away from your children.
I will be honest when I say that I never anticipated this. I thought life would be a lot different than what is actually occurring. While a lot of people cannot handle the hours of a baby screaming, try to imagine handling hours of a baby screaming on top of trying to get your work done.
So, if you’re expecting twins, here are seven things work from home dads need to know about raising twins:
- Adopting a Random Schedule
Before I had kids, I pretty much maintained the same schedule for several years: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and the odd night when my work started to pile up.
Today, my schedule is all over the place. I try to maintain the same hours, but it can be impossible when the kids are screaming at the top of their lungs or your wife needs to take a shower and requires someone to look after the babies.
No matter how much you plan to have a normal schedule, it’s not going to happen.
Here is what will really happen: You’ll try to do your regular hours, but you’ll begin to transition to evenings, then weekend mornings, then Sunday nights, then anytime the kids are asleep.
In the end, you will have a random schedule. I’m self-employed, so I have the flexibility to do it. I can only hope that you can, too!
- Taking Breaks Ain’tWhat They Used to Be
For the past few years, my breaks have varied, but they were still concrete breaks that allowed me to take a timeout from the computer and allow my brain to reset. I’d go for a walk to the local Tim Hortons, I’d lay on my sofa and listen to an economics podcast, or I’d try to have a nap.
If you think your breaks will be the same once twins arrive, then think again. Your breaks will never be the same. In fact, your breaks won’t be breaks at all – not until they go beyond the baby years.
Here is what your breaks will be like: Doing the dishes, sterilizing the pumping sets and baby bottle kits, holding one baby so your wife can calm the other baby down, or trying to complete any household chore that you’ve neglected for the last week.
- Foregoing the Five-Minute Breathers
You just spent the last three hours completing a couple of assignments. You still have another hour to go until lunchtime, but you want to take a five-minute breather, whether it’s looking out the window or eating some peanuts.
The worst thing you can do is to take a breather. What I have found is when I take a mini-break, everything goes haywire – kids scream or it’s time to feed them already! – and then your work falls behind, even though you were ahead of schedule by at least an hour.
Moving forward, it is better to forego the five-minute reliever because you’ll never know what will happen.
- Enduring What Your Wife Endures
Let’s be honest: Mothers of newborns – singletons, twins, or triplets – endure a lot every single day. From pumping to feeding to entertaining, a mom needs to go through quite a bit at all hours of the day.
Most husbands get to absquatulate from it all every morning until they arrive home in the evening.
That’s not the case for you.
In addition to all the work you need to get done, you get to endure everything your wife endures. It won’t be just your wife who will lose her mind, you, too, will begin to go insane.
So, be prepared to enjoy a whole day of crying as you attempt to meet deadlines.
- Holding One Baby All the Time
As time goes by, you begin to master the art of typing with one hand. You’ll need to if you’re constantly holding a baby in your arms for 20 minutes here and there.
Because your wife needs to eat or take a shower, you’ll likely need to put a baby in your arms. And, because they don’t want to be situated in the same spot, they’ll demand that you walk around with them, which eats away more of your working schedule.
- Craving the Silence
For the last several years working from home, I have enjoyed the silence in our home. Sure, I’d have Classical FM playing on the radio or I’ll stream 1930s Jazz on YouTube, but it was still relatively quiet compared to what I get to do experience today.
With the hours of crying, whining, and screaming, you’ll never get to enjoy your silence again.
And this will hurt you the most, not spending $100 every two weeks on diapers or BioGaia.
I’ve never been someone who has missed the workplace environment. I have never missed communicating with colleagues, heading to work on government transit, or eating from a brown bag. However, I do miss how the office was far quieter than my home today.
- Working More Because You Love Them
Being a new dad is a major responsibility, especially when you have twins. You have two mouths to feed and clothe, plus your wife will be home from work for a few years. Everything is on your shoulders.
When I came to this realization, it never really bothered me. For others, however, it might be a bit too much, particularly when it comes to this new development: working more.
Since my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with twins, I have ramped up my workload. Since my son and daughter came home from the hospital two months after their birth, I have tried to increase my workload. I love to work and I love my work, so that has never been much of a grievance for me.
Like I said, the biggest concern is trying to get all that work done in the first place.
There you have it: Working from home when you’re raising baby twins.
I love my son and daughter. The great moments may be rare and last only a few minutes, but when they do occur, it makes everything worth it. When my son smiles when I joke around with him or when my daughter gets excited by her blue squid flying from the heavens and landing on her forehead, it helps me forget about the frustration, the consternation, and the irritation throughout the day.
Every parent’s situation is unique. You might have help; we don’t. You might have a room in your house to flee from it all; we don’t. You might have the patience of a saint; I don’t anymore. But if you have zero clue what to expect, then I hope this has been somewhat helpful.
Let me know about your experiences as a father of twins!